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Self Assessment – HMRC reveals worst late-filing excuses

If you’re a company director, or self-employed, you must submit your Self Assessment Tax Return (SATR) by 31st January to avoid any penalties. Most excuses for late delivery are rejected. With this in mind, HMRC has revealed some of the most pathetic excuses used by taxpayers who’ve missed the deadline in the past.

SATR Late Filing

Don’t miss the deadline

All small business owners need to submit a tax return each year – whether you’re a director of your own company, a sole trader, or member of a partnership.

31st January is also the date by which any tax you owe on income received during the previous tax year must be paid to HMRC (in cleared funds).

If you do submit your return or tax liabilities late, you’ll be penalised – starting with a mandatory £100 fine the moment your return becomes late. You will receive further penalties over time, and will have to pay interest on any tax you fail to pay on time. You can get an estimate of how big your penalty could become via this HMRC calculator.

If you’ve not yet completed your tax return yet, don’t delay, as you first need to have a Government Gateway ID and activation code to access HMRC’s Online Services. Find out more in our recent guide – have you got your activation code?

Don’t rely on lame excuses

Every year around this time, HMRC releases a list of some of the worst excuses it has received from late-filers. The following excuses were used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties:

  • “My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders”
  • “I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal”
  • “I fell in with the wrong crowd”
  • “I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency”
  • “Barack Obama is in charge of my finances”
  • “I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs”
  • “A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back”
  • “I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park”
  • “My girlfriend’s pregnant”
  • “I was in Australia”

Further Information

For help and guidance to complete your SATR, visit HMRC’s self assessment pages on the GOV.UK website.

If you have been penalised for submitting your tax return late, you can appeal against a penalty. You can find out how here, but make sure you have a valid reason, otherwise you may appear on next year’s HMRC Top 10 list of lame excuses!

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